Installation, Part 2

Congratulations! You've assembled the shroud on the Arctic Cooling Accelero Hybrid. You're halfway to a quieter, frostier graphics card. Now it's time to run the risk of somehow damaging or even frying your gaming hardware. It's time to install the heatsinks.

Arctic Cooling includes a thermal glue for applying the RAM and VRM heatsinks that is, make no mistake, a glue. That means that once you've gone down this road, there's no turning back for you and your card. Those heatsinks are there to stay, and if you want to go back to air cooling you'll probably have to buy an aftermarket cooler from Arctic. I initially tried to use thermal tape for this so that I wouldn't be locked in, but found that while it might have sufficed for testing, it wasn't going to be a long term solution. Figuring "in for a penny, in for a pound," I used the thermal glue. As far as I can tell, the glue Arctic Cooling includes is nonconductive, and it'd have to be, since it's so thick that it's difficult not to let a little strand here or there touch the PCB.

Arctic Cooling includes a wide variety of heatsinks for use with your card. The glue has a minimum one hour curing time, and a little dab will definitely do you. Once you've let the glue cure, though, it's good to go and definitely reliable. You'll want to cover the RAM and all the VRM circuitry, as VRMs can run ridiculously hot on high end video cards. There's also insulation tape included to make sure the heatsinks don't touch anything they're not supposed to and thus cause a short, but if you're careful you won't need it; I didn't.

Interestingly, putting the whole card together isn't actually as difficult as everything else is, just a little fiddly. There's a black foam pad you want to install behind the GPU die on the back of the card so the backplate doesn't come into contact with any circuitry. From there, Arctic Cooling suggests spreading the included MX-4 thermal paste onto the waterblock and pressing the combined block and shroud into place.

The fiddly part comes in when you have to line up the backplate with four spacers above the mounting holes in the PCB and then get the screws to go through the backplate, the spacers (which are not adhered to the PCB), the PCB, and into the waterblock. I found the easiest way to do this was to gingerly place the spacers on the back of the card, put the screws through the appropriate holes in the backplate, then carefully lower the backplate into the spacers, which you can then slide to push the screws through the PCB, and eventually line up with the waterblock. Screw everything in, and you're actually pretty close to done.

The power cable for the shroud connects easily enough to the PCB, and then there's a single molex lead that comes out of the shroud. This is going to wind up providing the additional power needed to drive the pump. Arctic Cooling also includes a PWM-driven 120mm fan that attaches to the radiator (the PWM lead actually connects to the shroud as well), and from there it's really up to you where you want to install it inside your case.

Of course, when you're done you think to yourself "oh, that wasn't so bad," but the reality is that Arctic probably could've done more to make this a much easier process. All of the spacers should've already come with adhesive attached to them, the insulation tape is finicky, and good-quality thermal tape or adhesive for the heatsinks would've been appreciated. The glue definitely does the trick and seems to transfer heat exceptionally well, but the permanence of it makes me antsy. I also feel like the shroud didn't need to be so unusually shaped; there's no card it's ever going to look good on, though the 80mm fan apparently does wonders for cooling the PCB components.

Installation, Part 1 Testing Methodology
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  • DanNeely - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    They didn't. You did by not reading much of the article before snarking. Look at the second picture on page 2 of the article. The radiator is detached and can go in any standard 120mm fan mount; the shroud attached to the card is to direct air onto the heatsinks covering the ram and VRM chips. Reply
  • funguseater - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    Absolute garbage.

    Been using a $49 Antec Kuhler 620 on my GTX480's overclocked to 850MHz core and they NEVER break 73 degrees. Bought a $8 custom fan bracket for mine but first just used zip-ties, and this is a GTX480 the Hottest girl on the block. This thing is so overpriced it is ridiculous. Wish I had access to an accelero to compare system cooling results but the cheapo kuhler 620 will fit any GPU cooling need.
    Reply
  • AnnihilatorX - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    I wish GPU vendors offer more GPUs with waterblocks on them pre-built. Sometimes one or two vendors offer them but usually at a premium more expensive than buying a VGA card with standard cooler and the waterblock separately, which doesn't make much sense given the GPU doesn't need a standard cooler and sink anymore.

    I hate GPU fan noise and I hate thorttling, although I don't OC much I found watercooling is worth it. However last time I was careless with the VRM cooling on the HD6950, the VRM size is so small and hard to cool without specially made waterblock. I went DIY route and got the card burnt out, $400 down the drain for me lol
    Reply
  • funguseater - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    Yeah, thats why when I use a sealed CPU unit like the H70 or Kuhler 620 I just leave the stock blower fan and heatsink on, you can just leave the fan at a solid 40% and never hear it, and it cools your VRM just as well as stock. The CPU cooler just bolts ontop of the card all you do is remove the "heatpipe section" and replace with the sealed cooler, whamo 30degree drop under load. YMMV, laser cut steel adapters with fan mounts can be found online if you don't use a reference model GPU. Reply
  • CaedenV - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    I put an AC cooler on my old 9800GT back in the day. It went from sounding like a vacuum cleaner with the stock cooler, to dead silent with a passive radiator, while keeping the load temp 15*c cooler. It was unbelievable.

    Only problem was that they used cheap thermal tape to keep the ram heat-sinks attached, and every once in a while one would fall off, causing really annoying problems until I would reattach it. A few months later another would fall off, etc etc, and it was that way until I finally upgraded. But other than that it was perfect.
    Reply
  • jonjonjonj - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    At that price it's not worth it. Especially when you add a h100 your looking at $300. You could build a custom loop for the price of just the article cooler. Add that it's not a simple bolt on like the CPU version and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It actually just looks like they took the CPU version and strapped it into a plastic gpu case. I think they need to go back to the drawing boards and design the gpu cooler from the ground up. Not just slap the CPU cooler on a gpu. Reply
  • TekDemon - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    Buying one of these is rather pointless unless you're going to overvolt the GPU...
    So...anandtech...where's my sweet overvolted charts? =p
    Reply
  • mi1stormilst - Wednesday, January 02, 2013 - link

    get a higher end card than the one you planned on getting and avoid all this headache from the get go ;-P Reply
  • woogitboogity - Wednesday, January 02, 2013 - link

    "Not for the faint of heart" kind of says it all. I was burned BAD by liquid cooling 4 years ago and to be fair I did bring it on myself given the circumstances. Back then there were a few companies exploring a middle ground beyond the "old car radiator" DIY types with actual purpose built components that were supposed to fit together based on pre-existing on water hoses used in labs. Still despite how much it cost me in the end, I will not deny that having my North Bridge, CPU and Graphics Hardware running a few degrees over ambient at full load was downright intoxicating for as long as it ran. It then made a mockery of what I thought was a reasonably watertight seal. The fact that what they sell now are all closed loop cycles with pump and heat sink already integral parts out of the box is absolutely no surprise to me and I expect it to stay that way for good reason. Also, when you start doing funny stuff with memory heat sinks you sometimes have to add clear paste to protect the contacts on the board from weird impedance changing effects from the thermal conductive paste and the copper block itself. I wonder whether this was also a factor as well in bricking half the hardware I had installed on my ill-fated PC.

    If you have money to burn, or to be more accurate, money to replace what is burned out, then go for it. But make no mistake that you are as off-warranty as off-warranty gets. I know the product offerings are safer and have come a long way but newer electronics that are 10 times as fast can be a 1000 times more delicate. For myself, I work with fairly advanced electronics in high energy physics, so I do not say it lightly that I will not touch the innards on anything from a nice Workstation/Desktop. Not unless it is already broken, for the purposes of seeing if I can fix it to beef up a machine I don't care that much about.

    Nice article though, despite the difficult memories it brought up of finding a water puddle in my case. :-)
    Reply
  • stoatwblr - Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - link

    Moisture detectors are fairly readily available and can be rigged to cut the power.

    (contaminated) Water on unenergised circuitry is fairly benign. Just wash it off.
    Reply

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